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"The Big City" is a classic crime drama. We have included this film in our program to illustrate the work and contributions of Marceline day, a star of Silent Hall of Fame.
The last known copy of the film "The Big City" perished in 1967 in the MGM vaults fire that also destroyed "London after Midnight". Silent Era lists this film as "survival status: unknown". It is not available for viewing, so we have to rely on newspaper articles from the 1920ies. If you have any information about a surviving copy of the film please let us know.
Directed by Tod Browning
Written by Tod Browning, Waldemar Young
Starring Lon Chaney, Marceline Day
Cinematography Henry Sharp
Editing by Harry Reynolds, Irving Thalberg (uncredited)
Distributed by MGM
Release date March 24, 1928
Country United States
Here are just a few of the reviews for this film:
No one in the world can look so 'hard boiled' and menacing as this Lon Chaney and few can look so sympathetic in the very same role. In his latest starring vehicle, "The Big City", Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer's gripping romance of New York's underworld, Chaney plays the role of a hardened detective. And no character could demand more of an actor's histrionic talents. He has to be the very embodiment of the law - and still be as human as anyone else. Few beside Lon Chaney could play this complex role adequately, and of it Chaney has made a masterpiece of motion picture acting.
"The Big City" is a delicate romance told in a setting of NIGHT CLUBS AND BRIGHT LIGHTS, holdups and police and gangster battles woven into an amazing blend of thrills and surprises. Marceline Day in the role of a little shop girl, innocently caught in the underworld, is appealing. (Mirror)
Chaney plays the role of a police sleuth, and Betty Compson is seen as a member of the underworld. Marceline Day, however, has the big female lead as a shop girl who is enmeshed in an plot engineered by a detective. A very ingenious plot and well acted by a very fine cast. (Portland Guardian)
Chaney and his associates come in conflict with a gang of jewel thieves: a sensational hold-up of a popular night club, gun battles and duels of wits between the detectives and gangsters; these are all breathlessly exciting backgrounds for a charming love idyll of a boy and a girl. Miss Day, a shop girl innocently enmeshed in the underworld, has some remarkable scenes. (Recorder)
Marceline Day in the role of a little shop girl, innocently caught in the underworld, is appealingly sweet. (Sunday Times)
"The Big City" is a delicate romance, told in a setting of night clubs and bright lights, police raids in the underworld and battles of "crooks," woven into an astonishing blend of thrills, surprises, and romance. In this colorful, swift-moving picture of New York night life, Lon Chaney plays the role of a detective, and, avoiding the use of elaborate disguises which characterized many of his previous appearances, he gives a truly marvelous performance. Briefly, the story is that Chuck Collins, a New York detective, is detailed to circumnavigate the machinations of a gang of cabaret thieves. Assuming the role of proprietor of a dance hall, he is accepted by the underworld as a fellow-gangster. Move and counter-move follow in rapid succession, and finally Chuck captures the entire gang. The leading feminine role, taken by Marceline Day, is that of a shop girl enmeshed in the underworld plot engineered by Chuck, and an admirable study she makes of it, too. (The Brisbane Courier)
A vivid story of the underworld of New York, it shows just how far the influence of a young girl of strong character and high ideals can affect the lives of people born and bred to crime. Marceline Day lives up to her name as 'Sunshine', the sweetness of her smile capturing all hearts. (The Register)
Marceline Day does splendidly with her role. (Motion Picture News)
You can see a slideshow of stills from this film and other interesting stuff on our website silent-hall-of-fame.org.
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